Gen. Jeje Odongo Meets Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Commit to Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation in Air Transport
Hon. Gen Jeje Abubakhar ODONGO, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda met Senator Hadi SIRIKA, the Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Ministry Headquarters in Kampala.
The Minister welcomed the Senator and his delegation and commended the excellent, historic fraternal relations that exist between Uganda and Nigeria. He further observed that these relations have continued to progress from strength to strength.
He reiterated that Uganda significantly values the cordial long-standing relations with Nigeria, reinforced by historic common values and is committed to accelerate as well as strengthen strategic ties for the mutual benefit of both countries.
The Senator conveyed a message of gratitude to the Minister for the warm reception accorded to him and his delegation. He further hailed the excellent cordial and robust bilateral relations between Nigeria and Uganda anchored on the principle of Pan Africanism and shared values.
He lauded the exceptional, visionary leadership of H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni President of the Republic of Uganda and H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria highlighting that both leaders are united in their commitment to achieve socio-economic transformation for Africa and her people as well as attain sustainable advancement for human capital development.
He further emphasized the commitment of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to bolster bilateral relations in key sector areas of cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries
In regard to bilateral cooperation specifically in the Transport sector particularly Air transport /Aviation, Senator Sirika informed that the Federal Government has reviewed bilateral air service agreement (BASA) with Uganda as part of efforts to facilitate direct air connectivity between the two countries. This Bilateral air service agreement provides for reciprocal international commercial air transport services between the two countries.
He further appraised the Minister of the meeting held with, Hon. Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister for Works and Transport which took place on 2nd February 2023 and deliberated on measures to review the Bilateral Air service Agreement (BASA) between the two countries signed in 2002 and reviewed in 2005.
The meeting provided the necessary administrative and technical support to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed during the last International Civil Aviation Negotiation (ICAN) event, which was held in Abuja from 5th to 9th December, 2022.
Senator Sirika informed that following these successful deliberations with Ministry of Works & Transport and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was concluded and signed. This paves way for the commencement of direct flights from Entebbe to Lagos.
In addition, the Senator highlighted that the meeting agreed that Abuja is reviewed and included as an additional route to the existing Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with Nigeria. The current BASA had initially only designated the Lagos route for Uganda Airlines.
Hon. Odongo thanked Senator Sirika for the detailed updates and welcomed the developments highlighted. He further appreciated Government of Nigeria’s interventions to further strengthen Bilateral cooperation in the Transport sector specifically in Aviation.
The Minister reiterated Uganda’s commitment to boost air connectivity and quest for the operation of direct flight into Nigeria using its national carrier, the Uganda Airlines. He underscored that improved air connectivity would enhance bilateral trade between Uganda and Nigeria.
Hon. Odongo emphasized that these efforts are in line with Ministry’s policy of pursuing Commercial and Economic Diplomacy with the primary objective of further strengthening Bilateral Trade and investment to accelerate economic growth and development.
The Minister appreciated H.E. Nelson Ocheger, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and H.E. Ismail A. Alatise, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda whose concerted efforts and coordination with relevant MDA’s from respective countries culminated into the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) ensuring commencement of direct flights from Entebbe to Lagos and Abuja.
The Minister affirmed that the Ministry would provide the necessary political leadership that will facilitate implementation of the Agreements reached during the meeting.
The meeting noted the need for technical cooperation and collaboration between the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, and the East African Civil Aviation Academy (EACAA), located in Soroti, Uganda. Equally, the Ugandan Aeronautical Authorities also solicited technical support from Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
In his response, Senator Sirika underscored the importance of air transportation, which he deeply observed that it remains the major veritable means of connecting the people of Africa and enhancing trade.
He stated that air transportation will do well in Africa with its population of over 1.37 Billion and urged African Nations to leverage the opportunity of Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) to attain the 2065 Africa Agenda.
Senator Sirika gave the assurance of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to facilitate necessary efforts to ensure air connectivity becomes a reality as both countries have come a long way and promised positive responses to the requests made by Uganda.
The meeting which was attended by H.E. Nelson Ocheger, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and H.E. Ismail A. Alatise, the Nigerian High Commissioner to the Republic of Uganda, Amb. Katureebe Tayebwa, Head Regional Economic Department as well as othet officials from the Ministry concluded on a cordial note with a consensus to expedite what was agreed upon for the mutual benefit of both Uganda and Nigeria.
Hon. Gen Jeje Abubakhar ODONGO, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda (2nd Right) Senator Hadi SIRIKA, the Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2nd Left) H.E. Nelson Ocheger, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Left) and H.E. Ismail A. Alatise, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Uganda (Right)